Australia’s mining industry is in the box seat to benefit from the booming demand for critical minerals. Driven by the push towards Net Zero and Electric vehicle (EV) battery technology, critical minerals now represent the fastest-growing sector in Aussie mining. The projected flow of nationwide economic benefits includes new downstream industries, jobs, and skills while helping decarbonize the global economy. As the worldwide energy system transitions to renewables, companies, and countries looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and adopt clean energy technologies will turn to Australia for a range of critical minerals.

The most prominent include: 

  • Copper
  • Lithium
  • Nickel
  • Cobalt
  • Rare earth minerals

Opportunities for growth in Critical Minerals

Australia’s expansion opportunity is massive as a world leader in critical mineral exports. Currently supporting many countries with high-quality, ethically-sourced minerals, we rank highly on the world export stage for: 

  • Critical minerals like antimony, cobalt, lithium, manganese ore, niobium, tungsten, and vanadium
  • Lithium production, rutile zircon, and rare earth elements
  • With significant potential for more undiscovered minerals

Critical mineral miners are now the largest group within Australia’s Mid-Tier 50 (MT50) mining companies and represent over half the group’s value. 

The market capitalisation of the MT50 increased by 17% to $124 billion (as of 30 June 2022) and an additional 20% to $150 billion by 30 September 2022. This change highlights the significant long-term opportunities in critical minerals.

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

Demand for future-focused minerals to soar

The fast acceleration of renewable energies globally indicates significant demand for critical minerals in the approaching decades. 

‘Demand for EV batteries will increase from about 340 GWh today to over 3,500 GWh by 2030.’

The World Bank states that the production of critical minerals could increase by up to 500% by 2050 to meet the growing need for clean energy technologies. 

Primary drivers of demand will be:

  • Rate and sales of EVs
  • With steep EV market penetration expected
  • Renewable energy infrastructure demand
  • Including solar and wind turbines
  • Battery storage developments
  • Wide-ranging electrification

Australian government to support Critical Minerals.

The Australian Government has committed up to $250 million in loans to expand Pilbara Minerals Limited’s Pilgangoora Operations in Western Australia. 

The loans will be used to develop the company’s mining and processing operations in WA’s Pilbara.

“The global path to net zero runs through the Australian resources sector, and producing battery materials is vital for a lower carbon economy,”

A region producing lithium-containing spodumene and tantalite concentrate exported from Port Hedland. 

These are critical battery materials; used mainly in the manufacture of lithium batteries.

And add to Australia’s place as a globally trusted supplier of critical minerals and support the world’s transition from non-renewable energy.

The project is estimated to create 355 jobs each year in the first two years of construction and an additional 320 jobs during operation.

In Summary

Australia’s reputation as a global leader in mining and our abundance of natural resources puts us in a unique position.

As global megatrends like decarbonisation and electrification take hold, miners will look to boost critical mineral production, meeting demand while maintaining high ESG standards.

While a tremendous opportunity for Australian producers, there will be significant challenges along the way that will need to be managed effectively, including;

  • A significant increase in carbon emissions from mining and processing activities
  • Environmental impacts include biodiversity loss, water depletion, waste-related contamination, and air pollution
  • Social impacts from corruption and misuse of government resources, fatalities and injuries to workers and members of the public, alongside human rights issues, including child labour

If companies can overcome these issues, the potential of Australia’s critical minerals industry will be unparalleled.

Your feedback is important to us. 

If you enjoyed reading this Global Road Technology industry update and found it informative, please let us know by leaving a REVIEW.